OUTA asks Parliament to redo Budget to ensure government gets by with less

We need more effective spending and less wastage, says OUTA's submission on the 2020 Appropriations Bill.

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05/06/2020 09:14:12

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA asks Parliament to redo Budget to ensure government gets by with less 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The public sector is under extreme pressure. Tax revenue is falling further and further short of our national spending needs, but that is assuming that public spending follows business as usual trends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Over the past decade, we have seen state capture and other major failures with very little substantive change in the way government spends taxpayers’ money. This cannot go unchallenged. We find ourselves in desperate need of economic growth and impactful social expenditure that will protect vulnerable groups from the harsh consequences of protracted lockdown and the deepened recession we find ourselves in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The core problem is that ordinary expenses, meaning the money government needs to maintain the status quo of bloated and inefficient organs of state, are no longer sustainable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a big moment in the struggle for good governance. More money must be spent – and spent effectively – on Health, Communications as well as Higher and Basic Education, meaning it must be taken away from other departmental budgets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA’s submission on the 2020 Appropriations Bill is an introductory attempt to provide Parliament and other players with a strong civil society perspective on what this fundamental reprioritisation might look like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA’s Parliamentary Engagement Manager Matt Johnstone is backing up the written submission with an appearance at the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the 5th of June.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA’s submission delves into patterns of overspending on remuneration for public officials, where increases have been way above CPI for many years, and focuses on sector specific reforms that can be implemented to eliminate the abuse of tax and welcome private sector competition in industries that have been monopolised by the state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It also offers some general recommendations on how and where government can cut costs without risking the livelihoods of indigent and working-class South Africans. While a handful of redundant and oversized departments routinely eat up the lion’s share of tax revenue, others that are supposed to fulfil provisions of the Bill of Rights are neglected and must get a bigger piece of the pie on the condition that they are seriously held accountable for every penny they get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Using OUTA’s extensive research and investigations into financial mismanagement, misspending, opaque procurement processes and outright corruption in certain sectors, we put forward several case studies to justify our suggestion that many parts of government can and must get by with less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A central issue we deal with is the crippling effect of major public entities like Eskom as well as the challenges caused and faced by financially collapsing municipalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the energy sector, we look at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s moves to ignore its own policy and move spending towards nuclear. We call for allocations to be moved from nuclear to renewable energy, and from on-grid electrification to the cheaper off-grid electrification.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We oppose the Central Energy Fund’s request for a permanent bailout by diverting 25% of the fuel levy to an entity which should be self funding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We also oppose funding for entities such as the Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), which gets budget increases but fails to account to Parliament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA is encouraged by National Treasury’s newfound sense of urgency in eliminating waste and inefficiencies across the board. We simply cannot afford irrational spending plans and downright criminal conduct among those who decide how our hard-earned taxes are spent anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A copy of OUTA's submission is here
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A copy of OUTA's presentation is here
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Picture: Shutterstock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.